Yesterday, we had the first installment of our 3 part roundtable discussion leading up to Saturday’s rivalry game between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles. You can see that discussion here:
We pick up where we left off yesterday with the last 5 questions of our discussion. Don’t see predictions? Don’t worry. Those will be up tomorrow.
Here’s the rest of our Roundtable discussion:
QUESTION 6: What have you seen from Miami that makes you think the Canes will win against FSU?
Cam Underwood: The defensive line playing to an elite, and the defense as a whole playing to a very high level. Elite players on all 3 levels of the defense. A defensive line playing as good as any in America. A bevvy of skill position players who can change the scoreboard on any given play. And a quarterback with a rocket arm, pinpoint accuracy, and plenty of mobility in and out of the pocket. Oh, and a tidy 35ppg margin of victory in the last 4 games. Things are clicking and I think they’ll keep on rolling.
Evan Hadrick: The defensive line makes me feel great about all of our remaining matchups. Leading the nation in tackles for loss is a great way to keep opposing offenses off rhythm.
Matt Washington: How about forcing six turnovers last week. Miami leads the nation in tackles for loss with 60 is a pretty impressive stat. This defense has been stellar. There have been moments where it has bended way too much, but defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has this group playing well. Against a FSU offense that likes to take it’s time to make throws down the field, this could be a case where Diaz’s penchant for blitzes pays off with negative plays for FSU’s offense and hopefully bring out the OG of turnover props, THE Turnover Chain!!! On offense, continue to get RB DeeJay Dallas some touches, get the ball into the hands of your playmakers at the skill positions and the Canes familia is celebrating Saturday night.
John Camera: N’Kosi Perry. He might not have Rosier’s wheels but he can move well and has as good an arm as we have seen from a Canes’ QB. The running game is strong and as long as Richt finds the hot hand there early, it’s not unlikely to think Miami just might be able to run over FSU on the ground. That defensive line should obliterate the Noles’ o-line and I have a feeling Cam Akers will be very familiar with Gerald Willis when the game is over.
Gaby Urrutia: The Hurricanes defense has 12 more tackles for loss than any other team in the country. Florida State has given up the second-most tackles for loss in the country. That matchup right there is the difference in the game.
Marshall Thomas: Our running game has rushed for over 200 yards in four consecutive games, which doesn’t happen all that often at Miami. Also, our defense is playing better than it has in years, including last year. I don’t see the Noles scoring too many points on Saturday.
Dylan Sherry: A dominating defense that Florida State hasn’t seen anything close to this year, and an accurate quarterback in N’Kosi Perry. I’m sure that Taggart will pull out his best against Miami, but I have a feeling that Richt and Diaz have plays and schemes that Florida State won’t be ready to guard/defend.
Kevin Fielder: Miami’s hard-nosed defense makes me feel good about the Canes’ chances. Miami has won most turnover battles, have not let teams sustain drives and more often than not, win the line of scrimmage battle. These things are important in games like this.
Craig T. Smith: The emergence of DeeJay Dallas as a dynamic back, and just a newfound overall confidence that permeates from this team. This team has really jelled the past couple of weeks.
QUESTION 7: What have you seen from Miami that makes you think the Canes will lose against FSU?
Underwood: Inconsistent run defense (TFLs abound but big plays and QB run yardage can be there). An offensive line that struggles creating space to run against talented teams (LSU) and gets beat in passing situations (multiple games) often. A lack of depth that has Miami 1 or 2 injuries away from being super, duper thin at several key spots. And conservativism in play calling and general mentality (Toledo 3Q, FIU 2nd half) that kept games closer than they needed to be.
Hadrick: I don’t believe this will be the case, but playcalling in the second half has much room for improvement. If the game is close, we don’t need the offense stalling out in the third quarter.
Washington: Miami loses this game if they continue to have lapses in the run game. Whether it’s a QB keep, an inside zone or a trap play, there’s at least a couple times each game where Miami’s defense gives up a big gain on the ground. If the Hurricanes can’t stop the initial pass rush of the Seminoles, it may be tough to overcome. Since Perry has assumed the starting QB job, UM has not had to play from behind for a prolonged period of time.
Camera: It’s hard to say since the last time they played a team that was near their level was weeks ago with a different QB. Miami has had sloppy moments and slow quarters offensively, though last week the bad second half of offense had a lot to do with the defense playing so many snaps after scoring three TDs. The passing defense also hasn’t looked great and if Francois has some time to complete passes, he could slice up the secondary.
Urrutia: I am going to slightly contradict myself, but it is the only way I can see Florida State winning. The Hurricanes have been susceptible to giving up some big runs this year. IF and I am saying IF, Florida State can establish a real running game and get Cam Akers hot early, the Hurricanes could be in serious trouble.
Thomas: N’Kosi still hasn’t played in a game where he hasn’t thrown an interception (Toledo doesn’t count), and so that scares me a little bit. Also I’ve just seen way too many games where Miami has lost where they were supposed to win.
Sherry: Nothing too glaring yet, but a couple issues that come to mind are the kicking game, and an inexperienced quarterback. I love what Perry has done, but he still hasn’t played a ‘big’ game. If they can rattle him, concern will spread, as he hasn’t been faced with much adversity through his 2 game experience. Pressure on Freshman Kicker Bubba Baxa could lead to some impactful misses, and Miami’s punting game has also been weak this season, which could lead to some good scoring opportunities for FSU.
Fielder: Miami’s slow-starting offense makes me concerned about Saturday. More often than not, Miami is not scoring quickly and often enough, this has meant the defense has had to carry the load early and often. While it’s worked, it’s not a winning formula in the modern college football.
Smith: Inconsistency on offense. Going several drives without doing anything. Can’t go ice cold like that against a team with the talent of Florida State.
QUESTION 8: Who needs to step up for Miami to win?
Underwood: First up, N’Kosi Perry. This is only his 2nd start and he needs to play to the level of his talent for Miami to win. Second, the defense. Keep doing what they’ve been doing, and things should be good. Last, Offensive Line. They will need to create running lanes for the RBs and pass protect Perry to give Miami’s wealth of skill talent find open room in FSU’s secondary (it’ll be there, it’s been there all season, we just need to give Perry time to find it and exploit it).
Hadrick: Gerald Willis III doesn’t need to step up, but just continue to be dominant. The offensive line stepping up would put this game to rest, however.
Washington: Tyree St. Louis and Navaughn Donaldson. Both or one of those tackles will see time alone against FSU’s capable edge-rushers. Fortunate enough for both, Perry’s pocket awareness is ideal and he’s able to escape away from pressure occasionally. Regardless, they need to put together their best game to date if the Hurricanes are to have any consistent success on offense this weekend. Miami could opt to sub in DJ Scaife if either struggle mightily.
Camera: Miami needs Joe Jackson to play like his hair’s on fire if they want to win. We know Willis is going to be in the backfield and Jon Garvin will make some plays but Jackson needs to dominate his offensive tackle. The offense should be able to put up at least 20 points on it’s own. If Miami’s pass rush can harass Francois all game, that’s all they will need to win (though more points will be nice).
Urrutia: I believe it is N’Kosi Perry. If you were watching FSU’s game against Louisville then you saw the Cardinals quarterback Juwan Pass miss at least six open guys for either huge gains or touchdowns. FSU isn’t going to magically start learning how to cover guys in the middle of the field, so Perry needs to capitalize and hit the open targets that Pass missed.
Thomas: N’Kosi Perry, simple as that. We know Deejay Dallas and Jeff Thomas will perform, however this is Perry’s first start against FSU, and that is a huge deal. If Perry can complete over 65% of his passes, and not turn the ball over, there is no way we can lose this game.
Sherry: The offensive line. Not a single player, but the whole line in general. They played well against UNC, and against some of Miami’s other opponents; but FSU will be the best defensive line they’ve faced so far, aside from LSU’s. Giving Perry time to throw, and opening up running lanes will be crucial to Miami prevailing.
Fielder: Miami will need both the rushing attack and the rushing defense to step up. Miami will need to control the time of possession battle on offense and the best way to do so is to run the football often. It will be difficult, however, as the Seminoles are allowing under 100 yards rushing to teams.
Smith: Gerald Willis, Jonathan Garvin, Joe Jackson, and the Canes’ defensive line will be the main factor in whether the Canes prevail on Saturday. If they control the line of scrimmage, Miami will be in prime position to prevail on Saturday.
QUESTION 9: What about Florida State concerns you heading into this game?
Underwood: The “caged dog” mentality. The Noles know they’re not having the season they want, and that most everybody thinks Miami is the better team, so they’re going to fight their damndest to get out of the corner. Everybody knows the players try harder in the Miami-FSU game (players and coaches have routinely said this), and FSU has plenty of talent, so they could make things interesting.
Hadrick: Momentum. After looking like a complete dumpster fire for most of the first 4 weeks and up until the second half against Louisville, both their offense and defense made a number of huge plays to finish that game. They have enough talent to possibly make this a close game if Miami doesn’t execute.
Washington: The misdirection of this offense will be key for FSU to make Miami’s defenders hesitate instead of pinning their ears to attack. Expect Taggart to go deep into the playbook to find plays to catch the Hurricanes off guard. We have not seen the best version of this FSU team. In a game where both teams play up to one another, we might actually see a potent FSU squad Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Camera: FSU are going to play their guts out to beat a Miami team that is finally, heavily favored over them this season. Francois, despite being smacked in the mouth game after game, is so resilient and has proven himself to be a solid passer when given time. Cam Akers hasn’t gotten anything going yet but he remains a dangerous offensive weapon as well.
Urrutia: What worries me about Florida State is the talent on the defensive line. Brian Burns, Marvin Wilson, Demarcus Christmas and Josh Kaindoh were all highly touted recruits and Miami’s offensive line has struggled in the past, despite playing better recently. If those guys start hitting Perry early I am worried about how he will react in the face of adversity.
Thomas: Several things. First, that the Noles always play Miami tough, and we haven’t beat FSU at home in 14 years. Also, I’m just not sure what FSU team we’ll see. Are we going to see the team that was routed by Syracuse, or the team that rallied to beat Louisville?
Sherry: The fact that they always give Miami their best game, no matter what their record is. Home field advantage also means nothing in this rivalry, as both teams have winning road records in the series.
Fielder: The thing that most concerns me about FSU is the Seminoles having nothing to lose. Going into this game at 2-2, the Seminoles are not ranked and can play care-free. Miami, however, is ranked and has a lot riding on a victory come Saturday.
Smith: That Bobby Petrino made one of the dumbest calls I’ve ever seen by not running down the clock. The result was FSU stealing one from the Cardinals and spiking their confidence going into this week. Thanks, Bobbo.
QUESTION 10: Which Florida State player(s) are you concerned about heading into Saturday’s game?
Underwood: Cam Akers. Brian Burns. Deondre Francois if he has time to throw. Tamorrion Terry if Francois has time to throw.
Hadrick: Nyquan Murray was electric last week, going off for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. We need to ensure he doesn’t get matched up on one of our young defensive backs or there could be trouble.
Washington: I mentioned Brian Burns earlier and I will continue to do so. This is a player that the defense will feed off when he gets going. The resiliency of QB Deondre Francois should be commended. Francois is a guy that stands in the pocket and takes massive shots to complete a throw. Most of the nation is aware of the potential of RB Cam Akers. The fact that he’s has yet to have that breakout game this season feels like a countdown until he explodes for a massive game.
Camera: See above. Francois, Akers but also Brian Burns and Tamorrion Terry.
Urrutia: Deondre Francois has my utmost respect. You won’t find a tougher quarterback out there. Cam Akers has the capability of popping off for 150 at any given time. Brian Burns and Marvin Wilson are also guys I previously mentioned as potential problems.
Thomas: Cam Akers. He rushed for over 100 yards against Miami last season, and he’s really the only offensive threat that the Noles have. Also on defense, A.J. Westbrook is a dynamic player who had an interception against Louisville last week.
Sherry: Deondre Francois, and Cam Akers. Francois can scramble, something that Miami has allowed this year, with Akers being an explosive back who can turn a play up-field in seconds. Miami allowed 200+ rushing yards against UNC, so it’s safe to assume that Akers/Patrick will receive a lot of touches before the night is over. Francois can also throw the ball very well when he has time, so Miami has to keep the pressure on, and force mistakes.
Fielder: Even though the Seminoles have not gotten sustained production from Cam Akers, he still concerns me. Akers has as much talent as any running back Miami has faced this season and last season, Akers ran for 121 yards on just 20 carries.
Smith: Cam Akers. Maybe it’s the Dalvin Cook effect, but it seems like FSU running backs have been hell to stop the last several years. Akers, who had a nice game last year, is hell to tackle and can wear a team down.
That’s it for the 2nd part of our roundtable. Be sure you hop in the comments and keep the conversation going.
The final installment — Game Predictions — coming is up for tomorrow.